press trust of india
WASHINGTON, 26 JUNE: US President Barack Obama and his Afghan counterpart Hamid Karzai have reaffirmed their commitment to the Afghan-led reconciliation process with the Taliban to “end violence” and “ensure lasting stability” in the region.
The video conference held yesterday was the first round of talks between the two leaders after the Taliban recently opened a political office in Doha, Qatar, for peace talks with the Afghan Government and direct talks with the United States.
Mr Obama and Mr Karzai reviewed the current situation in Afghanistan and expressed satisfaction over security transition.
“The leaders reaffirmed that an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace and reconciliation process is the surest way to end violence and ensure lasting stability in Afghanistan and the region, and they reiterated their support for an office in Doha for the purpose of negotiations between the High Peace Council and authorised representatives of the Taliban,” a statement from the White House said.
Mr Karzai updated the Mr Obama regarding preparations for Afghanistan’s 2014 elections, including the status of electoral legislation under review by Afghan leaders.
The two leaders reaffirmed that free, fair, and credible elections would be critical to Afghanistan’s future, the statement said.
Mr Obama and Mr Karzai discussed a range of issues, including the transition of operational lead to Afghan security forces earlier this month, the importance of Afghan-led reconciliation efforts and the negotiation of a Bilateral Security Agreement.
“Specifically, the President welcomed the passage on 18 June of milestone 2013, which the two leaders agreed to during their January summit in Washington as the point at which Afghan security forces would take the lead for operations countrywide,” the White House said.